Have you ever returned from a conference, nearly bursting with ideas about changes you want to make in your life, your work or your firm? Our consultants attend conferences all over the country, and when they return, the idea spill is enormous. But everyone has limited time and resources. We can’t possibly implement every idea, no matter how exciting. We use a simple vetting framework to determine which ideas we should pursue and which ones take priority.
The 3 Is
The first part of the framework consists of three questions or the “Three Is.”
- Does it increase profitability?
- Can this initiate gains in productivity?
- Will we improve the client experience?
If you can easily show that the answers are yes to all three questions, it’s easy to see why you should pursue the idea. However, some ideas may not be a yes on all three questions but are still a good idea. In that case, we add two more questions to the framework:
- Why do we need to change?
- How would this make us better?
Take a firm that is considering implementing paperless scanning to improve their workflow. There will be significant upfront costs to purchase and install scanners, additional storage capacity and software. The value is not readily apparent to clients and implementing a new process tends to decrease productivity in the beginning as staff needs to be trained and adjust to new policies and procedures.
Using the first three questions, you can identify that 1) If rolled out properly, paperless scanning will increase profitability, 2) the client experience may be improved through faster turnaround or fewer errors, and 3) over time, productivity will increase. However, these will be deferred results. In this case, you have three “Yes” answers, but they all have the caveat that it will take time.
In this case, you need to address the last two questions. Why do we need to make this change? How would this make us better? If you don’t have solid reasons for both, then the project will fail. Use these two questions to identify your metrics for success, and you will be on the road to solid project planning for a successful paper to paperless transition.
Over time, your firm will be able to prepare more returns when they reduce the amount of time spent organizing, sorting and indexing client source documents. Clients will enjoy quicker turn-around time. Your staff will be able to spend less time handling paper and more time offering high-value advisory services to your clients. When you run the idea of paperless scanning through this five-question framework, it becomes clear that this is a good idea, and the firm should move forward.
You may still have more good ideas than you have the time and resources to implement, but this simple framework can help you identify the biggest opportunities going forward as well as put a governor on those that aren’t so urgent.
By Eric Benson
Director of 10X Operations
Boomer Consulting, Inc.